The number of digital subscriber line (DSL) customers has been growing rapidly, and industry analysts say the trend will continue. But is DSL meeting consumers' needs and expectations? Numerous published reports have highlighted a host of problems experienced by consumers who sign up for DSL service. The problems that have been described in media reports and online bulletin boards include long waits for service to be initiated, missed appointments, lost orders and a lack of coordination among service providers. In some instances installation blunders have left customers without any Internet or phone service for days or weeks at a time. NetAction wanted to know whether these anecdotal reports presented an accurate picture of the status of DSL service. So we surveyed broadband subscribers nationwide to gauge the level of satisfaction with DSL service.
Our survey found that a higher percentage of negative experiences were reported by DSL users served by the incumbent regional Bell phone companies than by DSL users served by competitive Internet service providers. In general, the Bells' DSL customers waited longer to have service installed, were more likely to have been billed before service commenced, and were less satisfied with technical support and customer service than consumers served by competitive DSL providers. When we compared responses from all DSL users to responses from all cable users who participated in the survey, we found that a higher percentage of DSL users reported negative experiences, and a higher percentage of DSL users were billed before their service was initiated.
NEXT: Section I: The Sample of Users Surveyed